The Daily Herald writes that a group of concerned parents will be holding a community-wide meeting at Eugenius Johnson Center in Windwardside at 6:00pm Saturday. The group, informally called Saba Parents Association (SPA), said it is holding the meeting to openly address the concerns of parents and community members alike that were not able to attend Monday’s meeting with the Board of Saba Educational Foundation (SEF) discussing recent controversies.
“I’m asking everybody to come out on Saturday and voice their concerns,” said SPA spokesperson Christalle Klaber. “We are going to talk about the SPA. We are going to talk about the school board and we are going to talk about going forward because there is a lot more work to be done.”
Klaber emphasized the meeting is not only for parents. Since Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) is publicly financed, the group welcomes input from all concerned citizens. Although both parties involved agreed that Monday’s meeting was a step in the right direction to open up communication, the group feels problems leading up to the meeting further alienated some parents who were unable to attend.
Monday’s meeting followed two unsuccessful attempts to hold a meeting last week. “It was a civilized meeting. We did not need a mediator. Everything went good. Everybody sat down calmly and we had a good discussion,” Klaber said about Monday’s meeting. Following Monday’s meeting, SEF board members publicly apologized to the parents and took their share of responsibility for the lack of communication between the board and parents. It was agreed that the board would be expanded from three to five fully empowered members with the public having the option to nominate candidates for the two new positions for approval by the Executive Council. The board also agreed to hold an open house around the beginning of the new school year so that parents can meet teachers and the school’s new director. Much of the contention between parents and the board began with the board’s decision to not renew contracts for the former director and four teachers. Parents and students protested the move and demanded answers as they were concerned about continuity and progress at the school.
Parents were informed Monday, however, that privacy laws relative to personnel matters prevent the board from publicly disclosing such information. As of Thursday, board officials said all positions have been filled for the upcoming school year. Prioritizing to improve relations between the board, the commissioner of education and the public is the primary concern now.
The formation of the Dutch equivalent to a Parent Teacher Association, a student union and a teacher association are all ideas the SPA plans to advocate. “We need support from everybody concerned because we need to decide in what direction we want to go. As a parent, we want transparency. This affects the island everywhere,” said Klaber. “The thing that really drives us is that the children spoke up…We have to back our children. If you read their petition, they poured out their hearts. When they talked to the governor and the commissioner that day at the school, you could see that they were crying for help. They are in the classrooms with these teachers.”